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Beertown, U.S.A.: Spokane, Wash.

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CATEGORIES: Beertown   Feature   Travel  

Listen up, beer world: Spokane has spoken.

By Joel Smith

Outdoor Magazine placed Washington state’s second largest city on its Best Towns list this year, sealing Spokane’s 76 lakes, scenic trails and towering nearby slopes as must-visits for fresh-air addicts. But downtown’s emerging urban vibe coupled with the city’s surging culinary cred—including the first James Beard House visit by a Spokane chef this year—indicate it just might be time to stay inside and savor Spokane. Our suggestion? Start by tipping back pints and enjoying the burgeoning beer culture. (Tip: Plan your route at InlandNWAleTrail.com and print a map; get it stamped at 10 of the area’s 16 breweries, and you score a mini-growler!)

No-Li Brewhouse

The oldest brewery in Spokane is also its largest; formerly known as Northern Lights Brewing Co., No-Li Brewhouse’s big, buzzing, woodsy pub has a killer burger and pretty river views, but it’s the always-flowing megahoppy Imperial Jet Star IPA that will whet your appetite. 1003 E. Trent Ave., nolibrewhouse.com

Huckleberry’s Market

If you’re shopping for hard-to-find ingredients like Spanish pimenton or organic pork belly, natural food haven Huckleberry’s is your market; stop by the deli/bistro for an artisan sandwich before pondering 32 fully-loaded shelves of craft beer. 926 S. Monroe St., huckleberrysnaturalmarket.com

Jim’s Homebrew Supply

Opened in 1952, this local homebrew store claims to be America’s oldest. Floor-to-ceiling supplies and a friendly staff guide you from infection to perfection, but before you rush to the boil, pick up some liquid inspiration: The shop also sells commercial beer rarities. 2619 N. Division St., jimshomebrew.com

Manito Tap House

No-Li Brewhouse

Be prepared to put in some time before snatching a seat at this of-the-moment gastropub, cleverly designed with reclaimed materials: You’ll park your beach cruiser on racks made from discarded bikes, and sip pints while resting your feet on an old eyebar. The menu’s locally focused and always fantastic; tuck into elevated fare like the chicken andouille burger with yam chips and Oregonzola cheese sauce, and pick your poison from 50 local-leaning taps. 3011 S. Grand Blvd., manitotaphouse.com

Iron Goat Brewing Co.

In 1974, Spokane hosted the green-themed World’s Expo, and a local artist created the town’s iconic vacuum-powered garbage-eating steel goat sculpture for the occasion; a small replica sits on the bar at this snug umber taproom with bare bulbs strung across the ceiling. There’s no food menu, so order in to your barstool and take advantage of eight beers for $8: In winter, include a bold pour like the Goatnik Imperial Stout. 2204 E. Mallon Ave., irongoatbrewing.com

Jones Radiator

The legacy of this former radiator shop on downtown’s shaggy eastern edge shows in its brick walls, concrete floors and hub-cap accoutrements. Twenty-five taps (and the occasional firkin) flow a serious selection of craft from Pfriem to Fremont, rivaled only by the booze menu; visit on Whiskey Wednesday for $5 double pours of drams you’ve probably never tasted before, and soak in the live music and lively regulars. 120 E. Sprague Ave., jonesradiator.com

The Davenport Hotel

On the ground floor of the Davenport—a gilded stunner built in 1914—Post Street Alehouse pours 26 craft taps; that means you can check in to the regal 1,100-sq.-ft. Governor’s Suite (wave to the locally famous doorman, Mr. Reed, on your way up!), and charge fried pickles and pints from Ninkasi, Wallace and more to your room. 10 S. Post St., thedavenporthotel.com

Budge Brothers

The Budge brothers, Brad and Bruce, are quintessential good-hearted beer nerds who cobbled together their original no-frills brewery by attaching taps to their grandfather’s old tackle box. At their current digs, free cartons of brown-butter-bathed popcorn pair perfectly with heavily hopped pales and IPAs. Bring home any of the bros’ brews in an awesome pig-shaped growler. 2018 E. Riverside Ave., budgebrothers.com

The Elk Public House

Nestled in Spokane’s hippest ’hood, the Elk is a straightforward, 20-tap brick pub that draws a cool, young crowd. The bar hosts the two-year-old Spo-Can festival of canned beer; the party moves outside for the annual Elkfest block party. 1931 W. Pacific Ave., wedonthaveone.com

Twelve String Brewing

This place rocks: 25-year homebrew vet Terry Hackler turns up the volume at his rock ‘n’ roll brewpub with guitars on the walls and guitar-neck tap handles pouring solid beer anthems like the refreshingly bitter-finished G-String Blonde and the occasional Mango Mambo Imperial, a pale wheat aged in tequila barrels. 11616 E. Montgomery Dr., Spokane Valley, 12stringbrewingco.com

Hopped Up Brewing

The paint’s barely dry inside this former IHOP, which traded pancakes for beer-steamed hotdogs and small-batch brews. Start with Quality Cream ale—Cascade-hopped, well-restrained and megacreamy thanks to a nitro tap—before moving on to limited-release lemon and raspberry remixes. 10421 E. Sprague Ave., hoppedupbrew.com

The Hop Shop

After years of flipping houses in Mexico, brothers Andy and Glen Gardner returned to Spokane in 2010 to open this unadorned beer joint in a former soda fountain. These hop heads’ taste runs toward IPAs, but their 11 taps cover blonde to porter, Spokane to San Diego. Local brewers occasionally celebrate new releases here; Twelve String’s Terry Hackler got his start here as a homebrewing home contractor showing off his latest suds. 3803 S. Grand Blvd., spokanehopshop.com

Selkirk Abbey Brewing

Head over the Idaho border (20 minutes from downtown Spokane) to find this abbey-inspired brewery with tasteful oxblood-hued walls, ornate iron crosses and a huge brick fireplace—which is, of course, the perfect place to warm up with the spiced St. Augustine Saison or burly 10 Degree Quad. 6180 E. Seltice Way, Post Falls, Idaho, selkirkabbey.com

HUNT THESE TAPS: Full yet crisp and powerfully hopped (there’s nine varieties in every batch!), Orlison India Pale Lager is the mascot of brewer Bernie Düenwald’s mission: to show Northwest ale drinkers the pleasures of lager. At Slate Creek Brewing in nearby Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, brothers Jason and Ryan Wing brew one of the area’s most intriguing beers: Norse Nectar, a Northwest take on a Scandinavian Sahti, with juniper boughs and berries in the boil and a subtle, sweet flavor in the glass. Earlier this year, venerable Coeur d’Alene Brewing crossed the border and reinvented itself in Spokane as River City; the tap-only River City Red Ale is the crisp, caramel-laden flagship.



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